HC Deb 04 April 1984 vol 57 cc1052-68

Ordered, That, at this day's sitting, the London Regional Transport Bill may be proceeded with, though opposed until any hour. —[Mr. David Hunt.]

Mr. Snape

I was referring to the already frightening list of extra rates and charges that Londoners will have to pay. Inevitably, as a result of the Bill, they will have to pay a greater proportion of the running costs of transport in London; they will have to meet, despite what the Minister of State was unwise enough to say in an earlier debate, extra payments for the concessionary fares scheme; and under this part of the Bill, unless the Government accept our advice, they will have to meet additional payments for British Rail, money which has traditionally come from the taxpayer.

I do not know whether I need declare an interest as a taxpayer and London ratepayer. I am one of those poor people who will have to pay twice for this ideological nonsense to which the Government are dedicated. Indeed, for a Government who oppose the GLC on the basis of high rates and who wish to relieve Londoners of additional financial burdens, we are left wondering how much higher rates will be after this particularly confused part of the Bill becomes law.

The Secretary of State is on record as saying that he will use his powers under part II only if other consultative measures between LRT and BR fail to achieve — I whisper gently the dreaded word — integration. However, when in Committee we debated what was then amendment No. 149, which specified that the integration of the two services should come about within three years of the appointed day, the right hon. Gentleman said: That does not give us the opportunity to try the liaison operations properly and then to come to an ordered decision".—[Official Report, Standing Committee B, 6 March 1984; c. 910.] There appears to be little in the Bill that is particularly orderly, yet it contains many aspects that will prejudice the work that the GLC has done, especially in recent years, to bring about the sort of transport system that has benefited Londoners and those who use the city's transport system.

In pressing the new clause, I remind the Minister of State of some of the successes that have occurred under the GLC and the desire of the GLC to enhance those successes, for example by spreading the use of the travel card to British Rail services. Does the Minister envisage the cheaper travel schemes that the GLC has introduced — to which the Conservatives take such violent objection — being widened in future years to take in British Rail services? If so, who will take that decision? A legitimate question to the Minister of State, given her passion for talking about money, is how much all this will cost, when and if such a happy position eventually comes about. If part II proves anything, it proves either that the Government willfully wil not understand what they are trying to bring about in passenger services in the greater London area, or do not care about the damage that part II will cause.

The Minister of State waxes indignantly, as she does from time to time, when we gently chide her about the likely effect of the Bill on Londoners. If I am wrong about the likely effect of the Bill, no doubt, with that carefully prepared brief, she will be able to tell me so in due course. I hope that she will concede that the improvements—the integration of services and the fairly large programme of refurbishment of stations, and further subsidy of BR services—that have taken place under the GLC are not at risk as a result of the acceptance of part II of the Bill and the rejection of new clause 3. If she can do that, to put it mildly, we will be pleasantly surprised. We do not believe, as the only move towards integration written into this part of the Bill is for British Rail to consult London Regional Transport on fares, that that is sufficient. I ask the Minister whether she would agree that the consultations between LRT and BR on fares reflect the kind of genuine integration that both sides of the House would surely wish to see in London Transport.

If the Minister of State cannot bring herself to accept the new clause, will she say how much its rejection will cost London's ratepayers, and how the bill for British Rail services in London is to be met in future? Is the money to be paid to LRT and then passed on to BR, or will it be paid to BR direct? If it is to be paid to BR direct, particularly in respect of the increased services, will it be deducted from BR's global subsidy in some other way?

I hope that the Minister of State can bring herself to look kindly upon the new clause. The purpose of the clause is to assist the integration of BR services with those of LRT, an integration that the GLC has strived manfully—"personfully" may be more appropriate these days—to achieve, and which is directly prejudiced by the proposals in this biased Bill.

Mrs. Chalker

I shall try to answer the hon. Member for West Bromwich, East (Mr. Snape) in an acceptable way, but I must tell him that I cannot accept his new clause. Although he may banter and flutter his eyelashes through his new spectacles, he cannot persuade me that he has made a case for saying that the Bill will increase costs to London ratepayers, because he knows from our discussions in Committee and at other times that it is in order to bring about some sensible use of taxpayers' and ratepayers' money that we are striving to achieve better integration between transport in London now provided by the London Transport Executive, under the direction of the GLC, and British Rail's London and south-east region, which is responsible to my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State.

The new clause would prevent ratepayers from contributing towards the cost of British Rail services without the boroughs' consent, and amendment No. 53 would remove from part II the reserve powers to extend the functions of LRT in relation to British Rail services in the London regional rail passenger network. There is some similarity with the debate that we had in Committee on amendment No. 153, but I accept that the hon. Gentleman is worried that integration will fall harder upon London ratepayers in future than it does under the separate designation of public money, through the Secretary of State to British Rail, and through the GLC to London Transport.

As the Government believe that we can achieve integration between LRT and British Rail's London and south-east region, we do not believe that the powers in part II will be heeded. However, we have always said in Committee and in previous debates on the Floor of the House that if part II should come into effect, and enshrine in legislation the combined operation of LRT and British Rail's London and south-east region, it should do so only so that the ratepayers' contributions as a combined subsidy to British Rail and LRT are lower than the contributions which we envisage might be necessary in the early years of LRT — that is, a maximum of the two thirds ratepayers' contribution and one third taxpayers' contribution.

If we consider the new clause rather than some of the words used by the hon. Gentleman in moving it, we see that he is seeking to separate by statute the grant-aiding of bus and underground services from British Rail services. Therefore, if part II were introduced, there would no longer be the flexibility that we desire LRT to have in examining the rail, bus and underground networks together. The hon. Gentleman is seeking to impose financial rigidity between the British Rail services for which LRT would be responsible under part II and the bus and underground services. That cannot be his intention, and if I did not already know that he intended to vote on the new clause, I should have said that it was a probing one. However, he seems to have persuaded himself that the ratepayers' contribution will suddenly change significantly.

I can see no reason why the total ratepayers' contributions should suddenly change significantly simply because part II has been brought into operation. It would be sensible from the time that part II was introduced to express the levy slightly differently, because it would be a smaller proportion of the increased grants to LRT—the existing total grant plus the grant to British Rail for London and the south-east.

To give the hon. Gentleman an example, if when part II was introduced the ratepayers' levy for LRT was 60 per cent.—I take that figure for purely illustrative reasons—the total grant would decrease to a figure of 60 minus Y per cent., Y being a function of the grant being paid for British Rail's London and south-east region. In other words, the 60 minus Y per cent. would become, in effect, a new maximum percentage. Of course, that reduction would occur because virtually all the support to the board's London and south-east services now comes from central rather than local government and there is no reason why the amount of the ratepayers' contribution should suddenly become very different because part II of the Bill was brought into operation.

10.15 pm

I have told the hon. Gentleman on many occasions that I see no reason why it should have to happen. In Committee we explained at some length some of the proposals and ideas for bringing about a far closer liaison than has been possible to date between British Rail London and south-east region and London Transport Executive. Should it become necessary, however, it certainly does not mean that the ratepayer contribution would increase per se, because the PSO for London and south-east BR would still be available to London and south-east BR and be paid through LRT to them. What he is seeking, therefore, in his new clause and consequent amendment No. 53 is to separate, in a way which would prevent the very flexibility that he has been praising, the sums of money going to the different aspects of transport provision in London.

While he may have some fun at my expense or that of other people about the whole issue of integration, I will say to the hon. Gentleman that I believe that there is no reason why any more resources should come from the ratepayer than at present. He knows that it is our avowed intention to reduce the amount of resources coming from the ratepayer.

The hon. Gentleman is also being unrealistic in terms of the financing element when he talks about involving the boroughs. He has been aware, I think, from our debates that I have sought wherever possible to include consultation with the boroughs and with other interested parties in the enactment of the LRT legislation. I really cannot see, however, how one would determine the agreement of the boroughs and their ratepayers because the hon. Gentleman does not say whether he requires unanimity or whether a single borough or even a group of ratepayers could have an effective veto. In other words, I do not think that, when it comes down to it, the practicalities of the new clause are practicable for the working of London Transport.

Mr. Snape

Perhaps I could answer the Minister. Although she does it charmingly, she should stop presenting assertions as facts. It has long been the view of those on the Opposition Benches, as it was their view in Committee, that it is the Government's duty and obligation to consult elected local authorities in the manner that we have outlined in the new clause. I see no insuperable objection to the consultation outlined in new clause 11. If there is some insuperable objection, perhaps the Minister would detail it rather than, no matter how gently, implying it.

Mrs. Chalker

' The hon. Gentleman misunderstands —I suspect, somewhat purposely. There is no way in which deciding the exact monetary amounts can be part of the final decision-taking of consultation. It is perfectly true that in the preparation of plans, whether by London Regional Transport putting forward its needs for the following year or in the LRT annual plan, which we will come to on a new clause tomorrow, or in the strategic statement, which is already in the Bill—in both cases, before one ever arrives at the total amount of moneys to be apportioned from the National Exchequer and to be precepted through the rates, there will be consultation. It is crucial that final decisions are taken quickly—as they are at present, following consultations with British Rail and, I imagine, by the GLC with LT —and are not subject to the veto of any borough or group of persons.

When considering new clause 11, the hon. Gentleman must think about one of its effects. If we were to decide that LRT could make better use of some BR lines because it could run commuter services which were more consistent and fitted in better with the LTR network than with BR, in an area composed predominantly of commuter traffic, I do not necessarily believe that it would be fair to load the total effect and cost of those rail lines on London's ratepayers. The rigidity in new clause 11 would have that effect. The cost of the maintenance of those rail lines would fall upon LRT even if they were used for long-distance travel outside the London and south-east region.

From the comments that the hon. Gentleman has made and from my reading of new clause 11 and amendment No. 53, I do not see why he needs the terms of the amendment included in the Bill. I am confident that BR and LRT, from their expression of how they wish to work and provide services for the Londoner, will be able to work together.

In Committee we told the hon. Gentleman about the high-level non-statutory liaison arrangements which would be overseen by my hon. Friend the Secretary of State, and, in his absence, by me. The Bill brings together LRT and BR services in the area within the same policy and financial framework. We are backing that with the statutory powers and duties provided in clauses 2 and 3. I do not see, therefore, that we shall need to have recourse to part II. Should it be needed to achieve integration, there is no way in which the hon. Gentleman's proposals would make that any easier. In fact, it would make it harder. I do not wish to put any impediment in the way of bringing together BR London and south-east region and the services which will be operated by LRT in the future.

The hon. Gentleman said a few other things which I should perhaps answer. He spoke about the travel card and asked whether it would continue and widen. I cannot give undertakings as to exactly what will happen. I think that the integral advantages—if I may use that adjective—of having a ticket which takes one from the point of departure to the point of destination, through a number of different services, is well known in other countries and is beginning to be seen here. LT's desire to achieve that and BR's readiness to look at future possibilities is something that I would wish to encourage and which I know will be one of the objectives set by my right hon. Friend for LRT in its early days.

In taking the decisions, LRT and BR will have their own external financing limits. They are in charge of their own destiny when making economic decisions. I would regret to see on the statute book a power to dictate to able managers of public concerns how they should take those decisions. If one does not leave them free to take such decisions, one will never attract into the public transport service people of the right calibre to give the best service to the travelling public. I have seen that happening in other countries where, because a relatively unfettered responsibility is exercised by the chairmen of public concerns within the objectives set by the Governments of those countries, they have been able to provide a far better service for the travellers than, regrettably, we have been able to achieve so far in this country.

We are seeking to put those things right with the Bill. I hope that my right hon. and hon. Friends will see that the rigidity that is introduced by the new clause and the amendment with regard to British Rail and LRT is to no good purpose, and could hinder the integration to which I know the hon. Member for West Bromwich, East is wedded.

Mr. Spearing

Although I know that theoretically every Member of Parliament should be aware of what happens in a Standing Committee on a Bill, particularly those who venture into debates on Report, I confess that I have not waded through all the reports of the Committee debates. However, had I done so, I am not convinced that I would be much the wiser.

Mr. Prescott

My hon. Friend would be.

Mr. Spearing

A careful filler would be necessary.

I should like to contribute to this debate on the London rail network as a Londoner who has taken some interest in London's railways over several years. I have considered them not from the point of view of the man on the Clapham omnibus, but from the point of view of the man on the Newham district line railway.

I am confused about the purposes of clauses 35, 36 and 37, which the Minister is keen to retain. When the hon. Lady replies to the debate, I hope that she will remove some of the misapprehensions. I hope that she will do so in language that Londoners will be able to understand if they happen to read Hansard or if her words happen to go out on the ether. I believe that there is an obligation on parliamentarians to speak, when possible, in language that their constituents can understand. I fear that, because of the complexity of the legislation, that has not been a marked feature of the debate so far.

I am confused about clauses 35, 36 and 37, because their language is extremely convoluted. I am not sure of their purpose. Perhaps the Minister, who wishes to retain them, will say a few words on those clauses in part II. I heartily endorse the hon. Lady's desire for integration. I noted her endorsement of that objective in the Bill. However, one does not achieve integration through long legalistic phrases in Bills. It can sometimes be done in other ways.

My first question about London rail network finance is: can we assume that the grants that come to the London rail network to be—that does not necessarily mean the grant to the London and south-east rail network, as they are not the same thing—will be paid not to British Rail but to LRT? The important point is whether that will be supplemented by a precept on the London boroughs within the GLC and then paid to British Rail.

If that is the case, let the Minister say so. I take it that that is the purpose of this part of the Bill, but let us get it clear. If it is not, I hope that the hon. Lady will tell us what will happen. The House is entitled to know. This is the last time that we can get the financial structure of these important railways in London sorted out.

10.30 pm

I have referred to the Minister's view on integration, and I do not believe that this is the best way to get it. The hon. Lady may not know that between 1933 and 1948 there was integration, even with the railway companies in private hands, in the London Transport area. Indeed, it was not confined to the railways. All the takings—trams, buses, trolley buses, underground railways and the main line suburban services—were put into a pool and then, on an agreed formula, the money was shared out among the operators. That system worked very well. I am not saying that it is the ideal system, but I suggest to the hon. Lady that there are all sorts of ways of integrating. Alas, despite her protestations, I cannot see a great deal of integration in the Bill, because is is not necessary to do it by legislation.

Some very good things were done before the war. The 1935 to 1939 new works programme produced considerable integration among the lines of the Great Western railway, the Metropolitan and former North Eastern railway and, particularly, the former Great Eastern lines in the Stratford and West Ham areas of London. That did not require legislation in quite the same form as we have it before us tonight. So the fact that the hon. Lady makes protestations about integration does not mean that the law is the only way in which it can be achieved.

At the same time, there have been some bad bloomers by British Rail. The continuing lack of a line between Willesden and Clapham junction is a major omission. Indeed, half that line was electrified before the war, but it is not electrified at all now. There have been some omissions from the present system. I am not saying that it is perfect, but we do not need legislation to put that right. The blocking up of the Snow Hill link between the widened lines of Kings Cross and Blackfriars was an almost criminal act permitted by the Government— it may have been my own; I make no party point here. They allowed British Rail to do that. The way in which the various regions of British Rail and London Transport were scrabbling after fares, without having a policy of coordination, was also a great feature of the post-war lack of integration of London railways.

I cannot see how clauses 35, 36 and 37 will remedy the ills which I have identified. Indeed, from what we hear, disintegration may continue apace. During the election campaign I was at a meeting right next door to the London, Tilbury and Southend railway and, while the trains were roaring past, I pointed out to the people at the meeting that if the Conservatives got back into power they might well sell off this railway from British Rail and put it into private hands. I am not saying that will happen, but the hon. Lady cannot deny that there have been bids for what is seen to be a profitable part of the British Rail network.

Mrs. Chalker

I hope the hon. Gentleman will agree with me that the London, Fenchurch street, Tilbury and Shoeburyness line is much in need of improvement, for the benefit of travellers on it, and that almost any improvement would be better than what some commuters have to suffer when coming up to London on that line?

Mr. Spearing

I do not disagree with the point that the Minister has made, that it could well do with some improvements. Of course, the stock on that line (was publicly owned and publicly invested. The old London North Western, the old Midland and the old LMS did not do very well by it, but just to say that there could be improvements on any commuter line, and therefore privatisation is justified, that is stretching it somewhat. That was the implication of the Minister's remarks, even if she did not say it. She did not deny that this was a possibility when she intervened. I welcome interventions from the hon. Lady, and if she wishes to intervene again I shall be very pleased to give way, but that seems to be a complete non sequitur and confirms my charge of disintegration.

Another example bandied around in the technical journals is the Victoria-Gatwick line. When I asked questions about that in the last Parliament, the people in Marsham street immediately clammed up. We now read in the technical journals that new coaches are being put on the route, with trains running every 15 minutes during the day and every hour throughout the night. That is fine, but I hope that it does not mean that that line, too, is a candidate for privatisation. It is clearly a cream route that could provide a lot of lolly for anyone given the concession, just like the ice cream man on the sea front.

Mr. Snape

Even if it is not a candidate for privatisation, does my hon. Friend agree that that line provides a good excuse for saying that the reduction of southern region services is only 2 per cent.? That is the kind of sleight-of-hand that makes us distrust anything that the Government tell us.

Mr. Spearing

My hon. Friend is quite right. Some of the aspirations mouthed by the Minister are quite reasonable, but looking at the straws in the wind we see something very different. I fear that while the Bill publicly calls for integration and co-operation, its real purpose is to allow profitable routes which should contribute to the public purse and to those routes which are unlikely to pay so well or at all, to be hived off arbitrarily to operators who will then make a profit out of the support provided for other routes by the taxpayer and especially the ratepayer. We shall be looking very closely indeed at the kind of operations that London Regional Transport permits in the way of privatisation.

As I said on Second Reading and in relation to the money resolution, the Bill is a licence for the Secretary of State and London Regional Transport to allocate profit-making routes to individual persons or companies at the expense of public money provided to prop up the unprofitable routes. For all the Minister's protestations about integration, I very much fear that that is the real purpose of the Bill.

My next question relates to the phenomenon mentioned in clause 35 — the London regional rail passenger network, not an acronym, but certainly another statutory phrase that we shall have to learn to live with in this legislative morass. Clause 35 defines the railway lines that will constitute that network as such railway passenger services as may be determined from time to time by the Secretary of State, after consultation with London Regional Transport and the Railways Board. I hope that the Minister will tell us more about that, as it will be entirely at the behest of the Secretary of State. He may have to consult other bodies, but he will designate what the network will be. I suspect that it will not be the existing British Rail London suburban region, still less all the routes of the British Rail London and south east region to which the Minister referred—an artificial creation to some extent, although I do not dissent from the concept.

Grave complications could arise, as it is clear that the London Regional Transport area may be different from the London regional rail passenger network. The Secretary of State could easily designate commuter lines going out well beyond not just the GLC area but even the LRT area, whatever that turns out to be.

Many places are served by fast and quite comfortable trains these days, and people travel to London daily from quite distant places. The London to Brighton run is not the only one. There has been the electrification of the Bedford line and the Lea Valley line, and there is the great northern electrified line to Royston. There could be a number of candidates from the London regional rail passenger network, including even Shoeburyness, Tunbridge Wells or Hastings, or the newly electrified line in that direction.

How far will this be carried? If those lines need some support, I presume that London Regional Transport will be able to provide it. If London Regional Transport provides support, some of the money will come from the ratepayers in London—from the precept—and that could presumably mean that ratepayers in the GLC area will be supporting lines that go well outside the GLC area into the lusher commuter areas, some of which I have mentioned.

That would be totally unjust, particularly with rate-capping and GREAs and all the rest of it, but it is a distinct possibility under the Bill. The Minister may well justify it by saying that London is not just the GLC area and that people come in from far afield to go shopping, or to visit Whitehall, or even go to Marsham street, and that we must look at the picture as a whole. I do not deny that, but it would be wrong to use London ratepayers' money to assist such lines.

Mrs. Chalker

indicated dissent.

Mr. Spearing

The Minister indicates that that is not so. Will she undertake that there will be legislation to prevent it? Ministers at the Department of Transport may not always have the knowledge, wisdom and understanding of the present incumbents. If there is a legislative possibility that that flow of money could take place, the Bill is very much wanting and some adjustments are necessary.

The Bill is being introduced under a cloak of integration and improvement. However, just as the Minister's logic was somewhat adrift when she kindly intervened to suggest to me certain points about the London to Tilbury line, so the logic of the Bill may also be adrift. It is likely to provide profits by licence to certain private operators at the public expense, and it will become an administrative and legislative nightmare.

Mr. Martin Stevens

Although, in these London debates, we welcome visiting stars to the Front Benches — the hon. Member for West Bromwich, East (Mr. Snape) and my hon. Friend the Minister of State—the rest of us always boil down to the cosy family of London Members. The hon. Member for Newham, South (Mr. Spearing) spoke with his usual mixture of good sense and craziness. If the hon. Member for Leyton (Mr. Cohen) should be lucky enough to catch your eye, Mr. Deputy Speaker, hon. Members on both sides look forward to hearing him. In the short time that he has been in the House, he has become one of our institutions. He is the Edna Everage of his part of the world and delights all who listen to him, both in the Chamber and upstairs.

I am allowing a frivolous note to creep into my normally sombre tones because we are all standing language upside down. I shall take the argument in a simple form as it is a simple argument. The hon. Member for Newham, South is absolutely right to say that integration between London Transport and British Rail is not produced by legislation. If we tried to legislate we should screw it up. As Dr. Tony Ridley, the managing director of London Transport Rail, with whom I have discussed the matter, would say if he were here, if we try to create a mechanical structure of management by legislation, it is almost impossible to get it right. It is much simpler to do what the Government are doing—letting the two move closer together. Perhaps in five or six years' time a formula which lends itself to legislation will have been established, but we should be quite wrong to legislate tonight.

10.45 pm

At the other end of the scale is what happened to British Rail under the regime that is now going through its death throes. Many of us tried to see "Fares Fair" objectively with minds free from cant. It was amateurishly executed but based on the perfectly sound theory that it is possible to increase the size of the market by lowering prices. One of the amateurish elements of that programme, which spoiled its execution, was that there was no consultation between London Transport and BR, with the result that BR passengers switched like lightning to the suddenly much cheaper London Transport and the Secretary of State had to pick up a bill for £100 million on lost revenues to BR. Under the fairly loose and informal arrangement proposed by the Bill, that will not happen. We shall begin to get some of the benefits that we have lacked in the past few years and shall not, by a lack of communication, first damage LT and then BR but get closer without the distortion of legislation based on a lack of experience.

Labour spokesmen keep talking about the enormous burdens that will be put on ratepayers. The truth, if I understand the emanations from the powder room at county hall, is that the new part-time directors of LT have been seized with furious resentment——

Mr. Jeremy Corbyn (Islington, North)

Is that a sexist or a military remark?

Mr. Stevens

That is an interesting question. Is it sexist to say "powder room"? I was nearly stopped from speaking at York university a coupe of weeks ago because they said that I was a racist fascist. If I am either of those things I am also the king of Japan.

Going back to the powder room, or the rest closet, the rumours are that, far from demands for subsidies increasing — to the expense of the ratepayer or the taxpayer—what enraged Mr. Livingstone's six bright young people who are helping out temporarily was that the corporate plan for LT appears to have envisaged an increase in efficiency, which will make subsidy less and less necessary. Public help will he required for long-term investment, but overall we anticipate that the need for subsidy may not form quite the mill-stone around our neck that it does now.

The new clause and the amendment are based on false assumptions — that we need legalistically to impose integration on London Transport and British Rail before they are ready for it, and that the need for management subsidy will, with greater efficiency, increase rather than decrease. We would be wrong to accept the new clause, and I happily support the Government.

Mr. Snape

I congratulate the hon. Member for Fulham (Mr. Stevens) on making a most interesting speech. I am sorry that, during our many weeks of deliberation in Standing Committee, he did not entertain us in the same way. I do not know whether this maxim applies to politicians as well as it does to journalists, but the hon. Gentleman during his speech never let the facts spoil a good story. Although interesting, the hon. Gentleman's speech about the lack of consultation between British Rail and the GLC at the same time of the "Fares Fair" scheme was wrong: the GLC offered some subsidy to the British Railways Board so that there could be a move towards the equalisation of fares, following the experimental period of fare reductions. The GLC was told by the Government, whom I am sure the hon. Gentleman is happy to support, that the funds provided by the GLC would be removed from the public service obligation and BR would not be any better off. Although the hon. Gentleman entertained us very well, I regretfully tell him that he should have a glimpse of the facts before expounding his version.

My hon. Friend the Member for Newham, South (Mr. Spearing) summed up the debate. He put a straight question to the Minister: why are clauses 35, 36 and 37 in the Bill? We still do not know, because the Secretary of State does not know—not that he normally knows much. He has gone on record as saying that he does not think it is necessary that those clauses should be initiated. Like my hon. Friend the Member for Newham, South, I feel that we should ask why, if it is unnecessary to initiate those clauses, put them in the Bill? As the Government are fond of telling us, they are responsible for parliamentary time, and, if it becomes necessary, the proposals contained in the clauses could be covered in a separate Bill. The clauses to which my hon. Friend rightly objected, are not so much the cloak of integration, but figments of the imagination of the Secretary of State. Those of us who served on the Standing Committee know how fertile that imagination is.

The Minister, in replying earlier, used all the usual clichés, which she does so elegantly. She talked about the sensible use of public resources. No hon. Member—not even I, despite the prejudiced view of the hon. Member for Fulham — could take exception to such anodyne sentiments. I confess that the Minister lost me when speaking about the difficulty of the joint use of railway lines. I presume that she was referring to the acceptance of the new clause.

The hon. Lady will be as aware as I am that lines are jointly used by trains subsidised by PSO, by other trains subsidised directly under section 20 through metropolitan county councils and by profit-making—I hope—intercity trains operated by the British Railways Board. I cannot see any difficulty about the joint use of railway lines in those cases. There is no great difficulty about the joint use of railway lines for London if the new clause is accepted.

The hon. Lady trotted out the story that we heard so often in Committee—that it is not the Government's wish to be directly involved in these matters; that it is purely a matter for "professional management". We heard those two words thrown at us time after time. Again, I must gently remind her that if she looks at railway lines in the remainder of the country, including her constituency, she might find that had it not been for the creation—I acknowledge by a Conservative Government —of the Merseyside county council, those professional managers to whom she refers so respectfully would have been delighted to close down the railway system in and around Merseyside many years ago.

I want to be fair, but I must remind the hon. Lady that politicians of all political hues—I shall even drag in the party of the hon. Member for Southwark and Bermondsey (Mr. Hughes)—have consciously taken the decision—opposed by the professional management that the Government admire so much—on Merseyside, in and around Birmingham and in London that railway services run and operated by British Rail are worthy of support by the ratepayers because of the service provided.

The hon. Lady talks about management function in the operation of transport in the London area. As she knows full well, London Regional Transport will have the sort of management function and management freedom that she has in her Department. London Regional Transport will have the same management function and management freedom as her whole Department has vis-a-vis the Treasury. She knows, as does the House, that the purpose of the Bill—we tabled the new clause to contradict that—is truly financial.

Mrs. Chalker


Mr. Snape

Yes it is. The hon. Lady knows that. It is an attempt to ensure that less money is spent on transport in London. The hon. Lady, with her usual consistency, has throughout our debates declined to answer detailed questions on future financing and the provision of services.

Mr. Martin Stevens


Mr. Snape

I give way to the hon. Gentleman.

Mr. Stevens

It is hardly worth the hon. Gentleman sitting down.

The hon. Gentleman told us earlier that the main object of the Bill was to sell off the system to those ice-cream selling chaps. He cannot have it both ways. If he does not like the idea of greater efficiency, let him stick to the reasons that he has given.

Mr. Snape

If I were to be as unkind as the hon. Gentleman, I might say that it was hardly worth his while standing up. He should listen before he intervenes. The extremely witty reference to ice-cream was made by my hon. Friend the Member for Newham, South. Much as I should like to have my hon. Friend's speeches attributed to me, I dare say he would object if they were.

If the hon. Member for Fulham reads the Bill, he will see that the purpose is twofold: first, it is to reduce the amount of money spent on the provision of public transport in London, and, secondly, to flog off the profitable parts wherever they can be flogged off and to anyone who is unwise enough to buy them.

I know that the Minister of State does not wish to reply. Given the content of her earlier remarks, I can well understand why. I hope that my hon. Friends will support me by voting for the new clause.

Question put, That the clause be read a Second time:—

The House proceeded to a Division—

Mr. Spearing (seated and covered)

On a point of order, Mr. Deputy Speaker. Is it in order for a Minister of the Crown, when resisting an amendment, not to reply to questions put by hon. Members when the debate is not subject to guillotine or any time limit enforced by an order of the House?

Mr. Deputy Speaker Mr. Ernest Armstrong)

Nothing has been out of order. It is in order for the Minister to make her own judgment.

The House having divided: Ayes 164, Noes 257

Division No. 229] [11 pm
Adams, Allen (Paisley N) Heffer, Eric S.
Alton, David Hogg, N. (C'nauld & Kilsyth)
Anderson, Donald Holland, Stuart (Vauxhall)
Ashton, Joe Howells, Geraint
Atkinson, N. (Tottenham) Hoyle, Douglas
Banks, Tony (Newham NW) Hughes, Robert (Aberdeen N)
Barnett, Guy Hughes, Roy (Newport East)
Barron, Kevin Hughes, Sean (Knowsley S)
Beckett, Mrs Margaret Hughes, Simon (Southwark)
Beith, A. J. Janner, Hon Greville
Bell, Stuart John, Brynmor
Benn, Tony Johnston, Russell
Bennett, A. (Dent'n & Red'sh) Jones, Barry (Alyn & Deeside)
Bermingham, Gerald Kennedy, Charles
Blair, Anthony Kilroy-Silk, Robert
Boothroyd, Miss Betty Lambie. David
Boyes, Roland Leadbitter, Ted
Bray, Dr Jeremy Leighton, Ronald
Brown, Gordon (D'f'mline E) Lewis, Ron (Carlisle)
Brown, Hugh D. (Provan) Lewis, Terence (Worsley)
Brown, N. (N'c'tle-u-Tyne E) Litherland, Robert
Brown, R. (N'c'tle-u-Tyne N) Lloyd, Tony (Stretford)
Brown, Ron (E'burgh, Leith) Lofthouse, Geoffrey
Bruce, Malcolm Loyden, Edward
Caborn, Richard McCartney, Hugh
Callaghan, Jim (Heyw'd & M) McDonald, Dr Oonagh
Campbell, Ian McKelvey, William
Campbell-Savours, Dale McNamara, Kevin
Carlile, Alexander (Montg'y) McTaggart, Robert
Carter-Jones, Lewis McWilliam, John
Cartwright, John Madden, Max
Clark, Dr David (S Shields) Marshall, David (Shettleston)
Clarke, Thomas Maxton, John
Clay, Robert Maynard, Miss Joan
Cocks, Rt Hon M. (Bristol S.) Meacher, Michael
Cohen, Harry Meadowcroft, Michael
Coleman, Donald Michie, William
Conlan, Bernard Mikardo, Ian
Cook, Frank (Stockton North) Millan, Rt Hon Bruce
Cook, Robin F. (Livingston) Mitchell, Austin ('t Grimsby)
Corbyn, Jeremy Morris, Rt Hon J. (Aberavon)
Cox, Thomas (Tooting) Oakes, Rt Hon Gordon
Craigen, J. M. O'Brien, William
Crowther, Stan O'Neill, Martin
Cunliffe, Lawrence Parry, Robert
Dalyell, Tam Patchett, Terry
Davies, Rt Hon Denzil (L'lli) Pavitt, Laurie
Davies, Ronald (Caerphilly) Pendry, Tom
Davis, Terry (B'ham, H'ge H'l) Penhaligon, David
Deakins, Eric Pike, Peter
Dewar, Donald Powell, Raymond (Ogmore)
Dobson, Frank Prescott, John
Dormand, Jack Randall, Stuart
Dubs, Alfred Redmond, M.
Duffy, A. E. P. Rees, Rt Hon M. (Leeds S)
Dunwoody, Hon Mrs G. Richardson, Ms Jo
Eadie, Alex Roberts, Ernest (Hackney N)
Eastham, Ken Robertson, George
Evans, John (St. Helens N) Robinson, G. (Coventry NW)
Ewing, Harry Rogers, Allan
Fatchett, Derek Ross, Ernest (Dundee W)
Faulds, Andrew Sedgemore, Brian
Field, Frank (Birkenhead) Sheldon, Rt Hon R.
Fields, T. (L'pool Broad Gn) Shore, Rt Hon Peter
Fisher, Mark Short, Ms Clare (Ladywood)
Flannery, Martin Silkin, Rt Hon J.
Foster, Derek Skinner, Dennis
Fraser, J. (Norwood) Smith, C.(Isl'ton S & F'bury)
Freeson, Rt Hon Reginald Snape, Peter
Freud, Clement Spearing, Nigel
George, Bruce Steel, Rt Hon David
Gilbert, Rt Hon Dr John Stott, Roger
Gould, Bryan Strang, Gavin
Hamilton, James (M'well N) Straw, Jack
Hardy, Peter Thomas, Dr R. (Carmarthen)
Harman, Ms Harriet Thompson, J. (Wansbeck)
Harrison, Rt Hon Walter Tinn, James
Haynes, Frank Torney, Tom
Wainwright, R. Winnick, David
Wardell, Gareth (Gower) Young, David (Bolton SE)
Wareing, Robert
Welsh, Michael Tellers for the Ayes:
White, James Mr. Allen McKay and Mr. Don Dixon.
Williams, Rt Hon A.
Adley, Robert Eyre, Sir Reginald
Aitken, Jonathan Fairbairn, Nicholas
Alexander, Richard Fallon, Michael
Amess, David Farr, John
Ancram, Michael Favell, Anthony
Arnold, Tom Fenner, Mrs Peggy
Ashby, David Fletcher, Alexander
Aspinwall, Jack Fookes, Miss Janet
Atkins, Robert (South Ribble) Forman, Nigel
Atkinson, David (B'm'th E) Forth, Eric
Baker, Rt Hon K. (Mole Vall'y) Fowler, Rt Hon Norman
Baker, Nicholas (N Dorset) Fox, Marcus
Baldry, Anthony Franks, Cecil
Banks, Robert (Harrogate) Freeman, Roger
Beaumont-Dark, Anthony Gale, Roger
Beggs, Roy Gardiner, George (Reigate)
Bellingham, Henry Gardner, Sir Edward (Fylde)
Bendall, Vivian Garel-Jones, Tristan
Bennett, Sir Frederic (T'bay) Glyn, Dr Alan
Benyon, William Goodhart, Sir Philip
Berry, Sir Anthony Gorst, John
Biffen, Rt Hon John Gow, Ian
Biggs-Davison, Sir John Grant, Sir Anthony
Bonsor, Sir Nicholas Greenway, Harry
Boscawen, Hon Robert Gregory, Conal
Bottomley, Peter Griffiths, E. (B'y St Edm'ds)
Bowden, Gerald (Dulwich) Griffiths, Peter (Portsm'th N)
Braine, Sir Bernard Ground, Patrick
Brandon-Bravo, Martin Gummer, John Selwyn
Bright, Graham Hamilton, Hon A. (Epsom)
Brinton, Tim Hamilton, Neil (Tatton)
Brooke, Hon Peter Hampson, Dr Keith
Brown, M. (Brigg & Cl'thpes) Hanley, Jeremy
Bruinvels, Peter Harris, David
Bryan, Sir Paul Harvey, Robert
Buck, Sir Antony Havers, Rt Hon Sir Michael
Budgen, Nick Hawkins, C. (High Peak)
Burt, Alistair Hawkins, Sir Paul (SW N'folk)
Butcher, John Hawksley, Warren
Butler, Hon Adam Hayes, J.
Butterfill, John Hayward, Robert
Carlisle, John (N Luton) Heathcoat-Amory, David
Carlisle, Kenneth (Lincoln) Heddle, John
Carttiss, Michael Henderson, Barry
Chalker, Mrs Lynda Hickmet, Richard
Chapman, Sydney Hicks, Robert
Chope, Christopher Higgins, Rt Hon Terence L.
Clark, Hon A. (Plym'th S'n) Hill, James
Clark, Dr Michael (Rochford) Hind, Kenneth
Clark, Sir W. (Croydon S) Hirst, Michael
Clarke, Rt Hon K. (Rushcliffe) Hogg, Hon Douglas (Gr'th'm)
Cockeram, Eric Holland, Sir Philip (Gedling)
Colvin, Michael Holt, Richard
Conway, Derek Hooson, Tom
Coombs, Simon Hordern, Peter
Cope, John Howard, Michael
Couchman, James Howarth, Alan (Stratf'd-on-A)
Crouch, David Howarth, Gerald (Cannock)
Currie, Mrs Edwina Howe, Rt Hon Sir Geoffrey
Dorrell, Stephen Hubbard-Miles, Peter
Douglas-Hamilton, Lord J. Hunt, David (Wirral)
du Cann, Rt Hon Edward Hunt, John (Ravensbourne)
Durant, Tony Hunter, Andrew
Dykes, Hugh Jackson, Robert
Edwards, Rt Hon N. (P'broke) Jenkin, Rt Hon Patrick
Emery, Sir Peter Jessel, Toby
Evennett, David Johnson-Smith, Sir Geoffrey
Jones, Robert (W Herts) Shersby, Michael
Joseph, Rt Hon Sir Keith Silvester, Fred
Kellett-Bowman, Mrs Elaine Skeet, T. H. H.
Kershaw, Sir Anthony Soames, Hon Nicholas
Key, Robert Speed, Keith
King, Rt Hon Tom Speller, Tony
Knight, Gregory (Derby N) Spencer, Derek
Knight, Mrs Jill (Edgbaston) Spicer, Jim (W Dorset)
Lawler, Geoffrey Spicer, Michael (S Worcs)
Lee, John (Pendle) Squire, Robin
Leigh, Edward (Gainsbor'gh) Stanbrook, Ivor
Lennox-Boyd, Hon Mark Steen, Anthony
Lester, Jim Stern, Michael
Lewis, Sir Kenneth (Stamf'd) Stevens, Lewis (Nuneaton)
Lloyd, Ian (Havant) Stevens, Martin (Fulham)
Lloyd, Peter, (Fareham) Stewart, Allan (Eastwood)
Lord, Michael Stewart, Andrew (Sherwood)
Lyell, Nicholas Stewart, Ian (N Hertf'dshire)
McCurley, Mrs Anna Stokes, John
Maginnis, Ken Stradling Thomas, J.
Major, John Sumberg, David
Marland, Paul Taylor, John (Solihull)
Mather, Carol Taylor, Teddy (S'end E)
Mawhinney, Dr Brian Terlezki, Stefan
Mellor, David Thomas, Rt Hon Peter
Merchant, Piers Thompson, Donald (Calder V)
Meyer, Sir Anthony Thompson, Patrick (N'ich N)
Mills, Iain (Meriden) Thorne, Neil (Ilford S)
Mills, Sir Peter (West Devon) Thornton, Malcolm
Moate, Roger Townend, John (Bridlington)
Molyneaux, Rt Hon James Trotter, Neville
Monro, Sir Hector Twinn, Dr Ian
Morrison, Hon C. (Devizes) van Straubenzee, Sir W.
Moynihan, Hon C. Vaughan, Sir Gerard
Mudd, David Viggers, Peter
Murphy, Christopher Waddington, David
Newton, Tony Wakeham, Rt Hon John
Nicholson, J. Waldegrave, Hon William
Onslow, Cranley Walden, George
Page, Richard (Herts SW) Walker, Cecil (Belfast N)
Patten, John (Oxford) Walker, Bill (T'side N)
Percival, Rt Hon Sir Ian Wall, Sir Patrick
Pink, R. Bonner Waller, Gary
Pollock, Alexander Wardle, C. (Bexhill)
Powell, Rt Hon J. E. (S Down) Watson, John
Powley, John Wells, Bowen (Hertford)
Raison, Rt Hon Timothy Wells, John (Maidstone)
Renton, Tim Wheeler, John
Rhys Williams, Sir Brandon Whitfield, John
Ridley, Rt Hon Nicholas Wiggin, Jerry
Ridsdale, Sir Julian Wilkinson, John
Roberts, Wyn (Conwy) Winterton, Mrs Ann
Robinson, Mark (N'port W) Winterton, Nicholas
Roe, Mrs Marion Wolfson, Mark
Ross, Wm. (Londonderry) Wood, Timothy
Rossi, Sir Hugh Woodcock, Michael
Rowe, Andrew Yeo, Tim
Rumbold, Mrs Angela Young, Sir George (Acton)
Ryder, Richard Younger, Rt Hon George
Sackville, Hon Thomas
Sayeed, Jonathan Tellers for the Noes:
Shaw, Giles (Pudsey) Mr. Ian Lang and Mr. Michael Neubert.
Shelton, William (Streatham)
Shepherd, Richard (Aldridge)

Question accordingly negatived.

Further consideration adjourned.—[Mr. Boscawen.]

Bill, as amended (in the Standing Committee), to be further considered tomorrow.

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